one of the most impressive scenes we have ever witnessed, occurred in the Presbyterian church on yesterday.
The services were being held by the Rev. Dr. Palmer
, of New-Orleans
, and the pews and aisles were crowded with officers and soldiers, private citizens, ladies and children.
A prayer had been said, and one of the hymns sung.
The organist was absent, “and I will be thankful,” continued the minister, “if some one in the congregation will raise the tune.”
The tune was raised, the whole congregation joined in singing, as in days gone by; the sacred notes, in humble melody from the house of God, swelling their holy tribute to his glory, and dying away at last like the echoes of departed days.
The second, or what is known as the long prayer, was begun, when out upon the calm, still air, there came an alien sound — the sullen voice of a hostile gun — ringing from the north bank of the river, and echoing back and back among the far-off glens of Lookout Peak.
It was sudden — it took every one by surprise; for few, if any, expected the approach of an enemy.
The day was one of fasting and prayer; the public mind was upon its worship.
Its serenity had not been crossed by a shadow, and it was not until another and another of these unchristian accents trembled in the air, and hied themselves away to the hills, that it was generally realized that the enemy were shelling the town.
Without a word of warning, in the midst of church services, while many thousands of men and women thronged the several places of public worship, the basest of human foemen had begun an attack upon a city crowded with hospitals and refugees from the bloody pathway of their march, and in nowise essential to a direct assault.
There was a little bustle and disturbance in the gallerries; the noise in the streets became more distinct and louder; near the doors several persons, who had other duties, military or domestic, to look to, hastily withdrew.
The mass of the congregation, however, remained in their places; and the man of God continued his prayer.
It was impressive in the extreme.
There he stood, this exile preacher from the far South
, with eyes and hands raised to heaven, not a muscle or expression changed, not a note altered, not a sign of confusion, excitement, or alarm; naught but the calm, Christian face uplifted, and full of the unconsciousness to all save its devotions, which beams from the soul of true piety.
Not only the occasion, but the prayer, was solemnly, eloquently impressive.
The reverend Doctor
prayed, and his heart was in his prayer — it was the long prayer, and he did not shorten it; he prayed it to the end, and the cannon did not drown it from those who listened, as they could not drown it from the ear of God.
He closed, and then, without panic or consternation, although excited and confused, the dense crowd separated, while shells were falling on the right and left.
All honor to this noble preacher, and to those brave women and children.--Chattanooga Rebel, August 22